Engineer, STEM Careers, STEM Resources

STEM Careers: Chemical and Materials Engineer Gabi

This is a photo of Gabi at one of the Paint Shops!

Have you ever wondered what an engineer is or what they do?

Meet my friend and former co-worker, Gabi Patrick.  She is a Chemical and Materials Engineer and works as a New Material Technology Project Manager at Toyota Motor North America.  

I recently interviewed her for my blog. Here’s a glimpse into her engineering profession in the automotive industry.

Q: When and how did you become interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)? Do you have a specific memory or event that happened in your life that helped you choose your career path?

A: I have this vivid memory of me asking my Mom about empty space (air). I kept asking my Mom: “Mom, what is this?” <while making circular motions with my hands in the bathroom>. She couldn’t understand what I meant. I think of that question often… and how far it has gotten me. 

Q: Growing up, what were your favorite subject(s)? 

A: I loved math, physics and chemistry. Math to me was like a puzzle to be solved. Physics was more like a hands on game, and chemistry was magic!

Q: In your own words, how would you describe engineering to a child?

A: Engineering is like a big puzzle with nuts, bolts, legos, rubber bands, and a pinch of pixie dust!

Q: What did you study in college and how / why did you choose it/them? 

A: Chemical Engineering & Materials Engineering

When I was in elementary school, my aunt who worked in the polymers industry brought me a bag of plastic pellets. I was fascinated by them, so I decided to follow chemicals the rest of my middle school and high school years. Finally, when it was time to decide a major, I decided on Chemical Engineering. Once I was deep in my college years, I took a class on materials (metals, ceramics and plastics) and decided to focus on materials for my graduate degree, specifically ceramic coatings.

Q: Are your college studies helpful to you in your career now?  How or why?

A: Absolutely. College studies are the backbone to my career and the understanding of my daily responsibilities.  Some days are more technical than others, some days we think about costs, other days we really think about efficiency, or productivity, but without understanding the science behind it, it would be really difficult to get my job done. 

Q: What roles / job titles have you had in the engineering profession and how would you describe them?

A: Storm water engineer: I analyzed how much rain we got and decided the best ways to avoid flooding around the city. Paint Process Engineer: I managed a very long process that coated a vehicle with a rust proof paint. Materials Engineer: I tested new paints to make sure they were the same color by changing how they were applied.  New Materials Technology Project Manager: I collaborate with designers, production engineers and suppliers on the material development before it goes on the vehicle. 

Q: In your opinion, what are some of the most important attributes or characteristics that an engineer must have to be successful?

A: Patience, haha… Focus, be a good listener, learn something new every single day, take constructive criticism, and have fun!

Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?

A: I get to work with people who have one goal: make the best cars in the world. My job has taught me patience, perseverance, humility, and respect. 

Q: What has been the most challenging part of your career?

A: Learning to accept mistakes and acknowledging failures.  

Q: What is one of your most fun, exciting or even embarrassing memories in your career?

A: My most embarrassing moment, and funny, has been the day I broke a stress toy at work. I had just had a difficult conversation with a superior and became really upset. My coworker handed me a very special stress toy donkey and I broke it in half. Sorry Larry! I’ll buy you a new one. 

Q: What would your advice be to parents and educators to help their children build confidence and interest in the STEM?  

A: Make it fun. Expose kids to different sciences (biology, chemistry, physics, math, etc.). Use daily, living examples, because in the end, we engineers work on daily living problems. Teach them how to think and solve, instead of ‘copy and repeat’. Focus on project-based learning, ask them to research, go look and understand. 

Q: In conclusion, what else would you like to add for parents reading this?

A: Don’t force a child into liking something specific. Expose them at a young age to all subjects but teach them how to think and solve problems. This is essential for any career, life problem, and eventually success… and please, have fun at it!

If you would like to connect with Gabi, you can find her on LinkedIn under her full name, Gabriela Patrick.

Did you enjoy this interview? Did it give you a better understanding of engineering? Does it help you with teaching your child? Would you like to see more like it?

Let me know at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com or commenting on my social media sites.

Book Review, Germs, STEM Resources

Reading ‘STEMs’ Learning – “Do not lick this book!” Book Review

screenshot_20181108-151901_amazon-shopping
Click to purchase this book on Amazon!

Several weeks ago, I was browsing through a parenting magazine and I saw a book listed as one of the best picture books of the year. Since it seemed to be STEM based, of course, I had to check it out!

“Do not lick this book!” is an extremely FUN, interactive and informative book to read!! It introduces germs and viruses in a fun interactive way by following a germ called ‘Min’ on an adventure. Min meets lots of new germ friends along the way. Children interact with the book by pretending to physically place Min and Min’s friends in various places, then exploring those places and meeting new germ friends.

The author, Idan Ben-Barak, holds several degrees including microbiology, the history and philosophy of science and library studies. He lives in Melbourne, Australia. The illustrator, Julian Frost, is world known.

20181105_165530

There are several pages in this book that have very impressive high resolution microscopic images – specifically using a scanning electron microscope (SEM). So kids can see things, like a shirt, in very very high resolution. Some of the things that the germs say in the book that Min meets along the way are very witty and funny. My three year thought this book was absolutely hilarious and we read this book quite often. She ends up roaring in laughter through each page!
20181105_165603

If your child is between the ages of 3-8, I would recommend this book as one to check out. As an adult, I LOVED reading this book to my child. It was a lot of fun to pretend and learn together. I am also personally glad that I purchased it because we have been reading it over and over again.

Have you read this book before? What did you and your child think? Is this a book you want to check out? Let me know in the comments or at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com.

DISCLAIMER: As an Amazon Associate and I may earn from qualifying purchases made from the links above. I was not requested to review this book and I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.

Fairy Garden, Nature

Coining a new phrase: Fairy God-Momgineering!

OHIO.  Rolling hills with gorgeous tree line views, rivers, lakes, creeks, beaches, ponds, gorges, waterfalls, farmland, marsh, etc.  The landscape here is beautiful and there are plenty of park systems with scientists, naturalists, biologists, zoologists, botanists, geologists, architects, ecologists and engineers that ensure that the beauty of OHIO is preserved for us to enjoy.

IMG_20180916_144735 cropped
Fairy house at Holden Arboretum in Kirtland, Ohio

In our family, we do our best to spend as much time outdoors as we can.

Recently we went to our local arboretum and stopped by the Children’s Nature Play Area.  This area has climbing ropes, a reading area, balance beams, a small zip line and an area to watch birds, squirrels and chipmunks feed from the feeders.

But what was most exciting for the girls was a recently added Fairy Garden. They played with it for more than an hour before we had to bribe them to go.  So, that’s where the idea for our next family project began…

This winter, we will be building a fairy garden for our yard.

There are many fun elements to this project that incorporate aspects of STEAM (I’ll be starting to add the Arts portion to many of our projects too)!  Most of our materials will be found in nature or scrap that we have – other than some items we may need for attaching (like glue, nails, etc.).

Using items from nature will allow us to:

  • Identify trees / plants and their attributes for building,
  • Identify types of fruit / nuts various trees / plants produce,
  • Identify other items in nature that can be used for building / decorating,
  • Use our creativity and
  • Study actual structures out in the real world.  For example, go look at the structural aspects of a bridge – what holds it up?

In the words of William Wordsworth, we will try to “let nature be (our) teacher”.

This entire project will be a great introduction to many disciplines in the STEAM fields.  Key ones that come to mind for this project are Structural or Civil Engineer, Materials Engineer, Mechanical Engineer, Safety Engineer, Naturalist / Biologist, Botanist, Geologist, Architect and possibly even Ecology.

I fully expect that as parents of two young children, we may be doing much of the work, but it will be incredibly worth every ounce of energy considering the tremendous amount of education and confidence that this will provide them.  And the final result will be so much FUN!

20180930_124111.jpg
Our first bucket of nature materials

Over the next several weeks / months, we will be collecting nature materials to use (started this weekend), taking photos of various structures that we want to build, planning our builds and finally, building several pieces and problem solving any (hopefully minimal) failures.

I will share each of the pieces in this blog – how they were made, what we would do differently and hopefully we will inspire some of you to do something similar!  Feel free to submit ideas that you have or items you think belong in a Fairy Garden – let me be your Fairy God-Momgineer (HAHA!) and bring these ideas to life! 

I am also SO excited to see the kids ideas come to life too.  Maria Montessori once said, “A child, more than anyone else, is a spontaneous observer of nature.”

All ideas in this post, as always, are my own.  Please reach out to me below in the comments or at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com if you have any additional comments, ideas or suggestions for our fairy garden.  I’d love to hear them!

And if you love this blog, PLEASE share it with family, friends, colleagues, etc. that you think would love it too.

Signature